In general, riders with high hopes of a top result in the GC cannot afford having multiple off-days before they can kiss their dreams of a good overall result goodbye. Only seven flat stages are for the sprinters, while the rest of the course is dedicated to the GC riders. Hard, long demanding mountain stages, a flat time trial of 55 kilometers and a mountain time trial of 20 kilometers leave no doubt that the race will be very interesting to follow and physically exhausting for the field.
Stage 14 will be particularly interesting as the field enters Tour de France territory with a mountain top finish on Col du Galibier in 2600 meters above sea level. In the moon-like and cold terrain, the riders are exposed to the oxygen-depleted air. Finally, you cannot expect the GC to be decided before crossing the finish line in Brescia as stage 19 and 20 both hold high mountain top finishes after a series of demanding climbs on both stages.
Team Saxo-Tinkoff have a versatile line-up able to succeed in both the mountains, time trials and on the flat stages with Daniele Bennati, Matti Breschel, Rafal Majka, Bruno Pires, Karsten Kroon, Mads Christensen, Rory Sutherland, Evgeny Petrov and Manuele Boaro.
The Danish squad has two main objectives:
“We are entering this year’s Giro d’Italia with two objectives in our mindset chasing both stage results and a solid placing in the general classification.”
“Our protected rider will be Rafal. Even though he is still very young, we believe he is capable of finishing amongst the 10-15 best riders in the GC, if he has hit his peak form, and he could also be a contender for the Young Rider’s Jersey. Rafal is very much looking forward to the last tough week of the race, and I really hope he will show his great potential in the mountains, like we saw it in last year’s Vuelta a Espana.”
“Besides protecting Rafal, the team will also be looking for a stage win, and especially riders like Manuele, Matti, Mads, Karsten and Evgeny should be looking out for and chasing these opportunities. We also know that when at his best Daniele is a proven winner in Grand Tour stages, but his primary goals this year is later in the season, so the most important thing for him is to keep building his form and help support Rafal on the windy and flat stages. Rory and Bruno will be the key helpers for Rafal in the mountains.”
The favourites for the GC are Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre).